AT&T: Evil Masters of the Uverse(?)

AT&T Complaints Department
1 Happy Street
Fiery Depths of Soulless Hell, TX 66666-666

Dear Sir, Madam or Other Miscellaneous Corporate Child-eater:

I write today with a great burden upon me, for a mountain of regret threatens to press the very trust in humanity from the depths of my consumer drone lungs. For thou hast slain me – not by any tangible measure but in a way far more malicious … a way that stains my metaphysical blood deep into the scaly flesh of your greed-mangled claws. Oh Captain, my Captain… My King of Kings… Please smite me not, for I present to thee … a complaint.

“Just sign the contract,” he crooned with great seduction, the brim of his heavenly blue cap perched upon the gnarled horns of a goat-hearted demon-agent of the great Satan himself. Oh, how I should have known – for you cannot spell SATAN without “AT” … while the origin of that blasted extraneous “T” remains far too mired in dark sorcery for my feeble comprehension. “Your beloved New York Yankees, 24/7… It shall all be yours for the taking … if only you sign.”

Satanic Demon Goat Mask

Yeah, sure. Like YOU could resist those eyes…

I remember the day as if it were yesterday: the air thick with potential, honeysuckle and sulfur. He knew exactly where to hit me – knew my softest of soft spots. I fell powerless against the call of the postgame extravaganzas I once knew and loved … drunk on the promise of Girardi and Jeter, Pettitte and Cano, all on-call at the press of a button. And, my God, did you say Francesa? The palpitations, they did thus commence…

“Just hand me a pen!” I shouted with glee, as he delved deep into his pocket to retrieve a lump of black avarice with which to etch my mark. Oh, how I should have known…

For a time, I must confess, things could not have been grander. For I had entered into a contract with Corporate America for the provision of services… And Corporate America had contracted back. On a day such as this, fortune shone oh so bright.

Heavenly sun rays and oak trees

Pictured: fortune. Much, much fortune.

And then, the skies darkened – metaphorically, of course, for this is still Texas and the welcome relief of cloud cover remains a taunting mistress indeed. Eagerly, I bound before the Altar of Truth, igniting its wisdom in a blaze of electric glory. But where were my pinstripes and the exalted arches of my beloved Yankee Stadium? Andy? Derek? Nothing. Not even a passing Ichiro.

cat in an empty room

“I don’t know, Mr. John Sterling Fluffykins… I don’t know where they all went… 😦

Needless to say, vexation consumed me as I reached for my phone to call the caring harbingers of customer service. There must be some mistake. For I had contracted with Corporate America… And Corporate America had contracted back.

The gauntlet I faced was cold and lonely, populated with talking heads and mindless mouths, eerily chanting pre-programmed responses to inquiries not yet made. But through toil and diligence, I found my way, sweeping aside a final thicket of thistle to bask in the grandeur that is Cindy (in Billing).

Demon goat 666

Oh, hi Cindy… I was referred by Mouthbreathing Bob in Sales.

Humility descended upon me with the stifling calm of a warm blanket. I was in Her presence: the presence of Greatness. Cindy had no need to boast of Her own importance, for the brevity of Her tone spoke volumes in Her stead.

“But I have contracted with Corporate America,” I pled before Her almighty gavel of justice, “and Corporate America contracted back.”

“Channel changes happen,” Her heavenly voice rang down.

“Yes,” I cried with futility, “but did I not pay for said service? Have I somehow angered the Altar with my most benevolent of intent?”

“Channel changes happen,” She said once again.

“And yet, I pay all the same, sans the services withdrawn?”

“And you shall continue to do so, lest ye wish to face the fiery trials of The Penalty.”

I recoiled in dread. Had my brazen bravado cost me more than I had bargained for? But wait, that which I had bargained for now itself hung in limbo. The shower of confusion intensified…

Hot bikini girl in shower

Please, I wish…

My beloved was gone, never to return – held captive by a premium of superior rank than the premium with which I had acquired her.

But what of the contract with Corporate America, you likely ask? Needn’t even a Master of the Uverse abide by the Cosmic Code of Law and Common Sense? Should not the unilateral rescission of services without recompense of consideration constitute breach and fraud, every bit as much as it would were the tables turned?

Or do you stand by your General, the Almighty Cindy (in Billing), shouting stalwart down the mountainside to we minion in the valley, “Screw you, walking wallets, we’ve already got your money. For you are bound by a contract with Corporate America … and channel changes happen”?

Demon goat 666

And there’s not a da-a-a-a-a-a-a-mn thing you can do about it!!

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The Great Obamneycalypse of 2012 (and Herbal Cheese-Stuffed Pretzels)

Cheese stuffed homemade pretzels with herbs mozzarella parmesan basil oregano

In the waning hours leading us ever closer to the intellectual apocalypse of Election Day 2012 – presuming you survive to tell the tale at all – where do you want to be able to say you were when it all went down? Who were you with when the last vote was tallied and the gods snickered down from Olympus, forever mocking the deity who forgot to give us brains with a viable shelf life?

Minerva being mocked by the other gods

“Hey Minerva, nice Snooki … HAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA … LOSER!!”

And, seeing as you’re currently aboard this unsinkable gluttonous vessel with me, what were your last meals amid a civilized society – before the sky turned sooty black and neighbors routinely impaled each other on slightly outdated political yard signs?

As for The Boss, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m already cowering in the corner, clutching my (culinary) bible, a crossbow and can of string cheese.

caveman holding crossbow aimed at viewer

You want my fire? Come and take it, you chad-hanging heathens. “Sharp” cheddar, indeed. Here, have some!!

Amid the good-natured federal fraud, bipartisan intimidation, inexplicably patriotic zombie voters and general rainbow coalition of redneck hatred toward our fellow man, now is precisely the time when those left with a shred of sanity (aka, independents) are busy navigating the angry seas of political turmoil and the pools of vitriolic vomit cast upon the floor, in search of the warm and stable ground of the familiar. I don’t know about y’all beeches but if you know Boss, you know that means I’m taking my titanium ass back to New York – STAT.

Of course, seeing as we are mere days away from all forms of public transportation bursting into flames or otherwise rendered obsolete in dramatic fashion, this journey home will have to occur in the vast recesses of my not inconsequential mind … and, of course, in my belly!!

Lest you presume I would do this half-assed, I welcome you back from your subterranean holding cell and shamelessly mock your terrible timing. No, if this recipe were any more New York, it’d be wearing a navy blue pin-striped yarmulke and rolled around the upper west side in an ergonomic baby stroller by a hefty Puerto Rican nanny.

What?? Oh come on, the world is ending, people!! If you want to waste your energy on 11th hour political correctness then I am totally stealing your daughter and your Spam. We’ll be holed up in that big cave on the ridge. If you want them back, I accept euros, shiny seashells and cabinet positions in the next regime.

mozzarella parmesan cheese basil oregano on white table in colorful mixing bowls

Herbal Cheese-Stuffed Pretzels

Pretzels
• 1 1/2 cups warm water (to around 115° F)
• 1 Tbsp sugar
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• Active dry yeast (1 pkg)
• 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 ounces unsalted butter
• Splash of vegetable oil
• 10 cups water
• 2/3 cup baking soda
• 1 egg yolk beaten into 1 Tbsp water
• Kosher or pretzel salt

Marinara Dipping Sauce
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 3 Tbsp sweet onion, finely diced
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 84 oz (3 cans) whole, peeled tomatoes, roughly torn by hand
• 3 sprigs french thyme
• 4-5 chopped basil leaves
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• black pepper to taste

Stuffing
Mozzarella, grated
Parmesan, finely grated
Fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Greek Oregano, finely chopped

Blend warm water, sugar and kosher in a mixing bowl and let it sit until it starts to foam like Joe Biden in the VP debate. Seriously, dude HAD TO BE high on something … all bug-eyed and giggly … *shiver*. This will really work best with a stand mixer but if I know my peeps, you are nothing if not enterprising.

Mix in the butter and flour slowly and crank it up to medium for about 5 minutes. Move the pliable dough to a bowl, oiled with the vegetable oil, and let it rest, covered, for an hour.

Add baking soda to 10 cups of water and boil in a large pan.

While the water is heating, separate the dough into 8 roughly equal balls and roll them out over a floured surface like a snake to around two feet. The dough will retract so allow it to rest, lift from the rolling surface and roll out again until it keeps its shape.

With a floured rolling pin, roll each rope flat. Run a fine layer of mozzarella slightly off-center, allowing space to roll over and pinch closed. Top this with any herbs you choose (fresh basil and oregano just happen to work flawlessly) and a dusting of parmesan.

Pretzel dough with mozzarella parmesan basil and oregano

Fold the dough over and pinch closed down the length.

Stuffed pretzel dough folded over and pinched closed

Finish with a gentle roll to reshape and form into the shape of a pretzel … or whatever else your artistic little heart desires. Hey, keep it classy!! Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brushed with olive oil.

Pretzels on cookie sheet panties in a bunch

Little pundit comes out of the cave… Swims into the hole… Comes out of the hole… Goes back into the cave again… *BOOM*, little pundit has his panties in a perfect twist.

When your water is boiling, give each pretzel a thirty second bath and return to the baking sheet. Give each a brushing with the egg wash and dash with pretzel of kosher salt, herb flakes and any parmesan you may have left. Hint, grate more parmesan. What, is this your first rodeo?? More cheese!! ALWAYS more cheese!!

Mel Gibson in face paint war paint Braveheart

They may tax our lives … But they will never tax … OUR FROMAGE!!!!

In a preheated 450° oven, bake for 10-15 minutes, keeping a close eye and removing when they turn golden brown.

Stuffed homemade pretzel dripping with cheese

If you’re not excited right not, I don’t want to know you…

SAUCE:

Let the pretzels rest as you whip up a perfectly basic marinara for dipping. It makes a decent amount so let’s be clear: you are supposed to have pasta on hand for “leftovers.” It’s kind of a package deal. A boxed set of Sopranos DVDs is optional but if you know what’s good for ya……….

First, heat up your olive oil in a saucepan. When hot, drop in your onions and garlic and a pinch of kosher to help the blend “sweat” a little. Stir constantly until translucent and slightly browned. After discarding approximately half of the juice from the tomato cans, add in the remaining ingredients and simmer until the mixture thickens. Remove the herb sprigs and season to taste. This is just *fuhgedaboutit* when served fresh and warm but tastes damn good reheated. Your call.

ALTERNATIVE:

Of course, should you wish to cut back on the awesomeness (for health reasons or something … go back to Jersey, ya wuss!!), foregoing the filling turns these beauties into the perfect walking-around-Central-Park-on-a-chilly-Autumn-day pretzels. And not to shamelessly self-promote, but what is any pretzel without the world’s finest homemade mustard? Or, you can flip flop like one of those aggravatingly indecisive purple states and split the recipe in half to try both. I’d be curious to see how the popular vote came on out such an issue where the American people actually had two WINNERS to choose from, for a change.

Pretzel political ad debate

Just remember, my friends, when the Trumps and the Allreds of the world have fired their last salvos of cancerous stupidity across the bow of our tiny little sanctuary, we will remain. And we will be freaking starving. As the elephants and jackasses wage ongoing war across the barren wasteland of a once-proud culture, we will raise our bread and cheese and proclaim proudly into the night, “We are the Foodocraticans (I just made that up, you can’t use it!!) and we shall inherit the Earth.”

Never again shall we elect a President based on the color of his skin or the depth of his offshore accounts. Mister Candidate, we care not about your position on green energy but rather your stance on green salads. Sure, you would defend the Mexican border, but what are you doing to protect our fine Mexican food? Long ago, we gave up the hunt for viable nuclear fusion but, my good sir, when will someone finally take a stand on Asian fusion??

The future is ours, my friends. Shall we continue to scavenge the outskirts of the beltway for the strewn scraps of self-interested politicos, or shall we finally stand up to the bland and tasteless status quo, and fill our plates with the feast of … liberty, or whatever?

Who’s “hungry” for better options? Come on, fellow eaters of life… Who’s with me???

angry frenchman Jacques flipping the bird

Damn it, Jacques… Ok, who’s with me and NOT French???

I Hate You, Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I hate you. Oh god, how I hate you. No, seriously. I’m not talking about the usual “boo hoo, you won’t let me hide my stoner party pics and now my parents found out and I’m grounded for three years” hatred. I’m talking the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, all gone supernova in a simultaneous cosmic display of gamma ray despisal.

Why, you ask? Yeah, it’s about time, ya self-obsessed jerk.

I hate you more today than yesterday due to one simple little post I found slipped into my news feed, as though you thought I’d never notice. Ah, Zucky, I thought you knew me…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If so, let me summarize with the following:

President Obama hijacking my facebook news feed for political gain

Note the elegant lack of UNlike option, the inability to comment and the complete void where a “delete” option once stood… I understand this is exactly how Krushchev greeted his staff every morning.

Really, sir? When did Facebook become such a political tool (not to be confused with the human tool at its helm) that it grants the incumbent leader a free pass to mark its territory with the proverbial piss of oppression over the domain of anybody and everybody he so chooses? I assure you, good sir, I am NOT the type of masked man that one wants to incite into a proverbial pissing contest. Indeed, crossing these streams shall likely lead to catastrophic consequences not seen since 1984 … and I ain’t talking Orwell.

Sauce Boss Retort Image

“You did not build that” news feed; the good and humble and hard-working and patriotic and attractive people of Boss Nation did. Mister Zuckerberg, tear down this wall! And ask NOT what this country can do for you. October 7, 2012: a date which will live in infamy … ATTICA!!!

Yes, the site was once your glorious domain – and it may be again, for all I know. I mean, does anybody else still own public stock after that IPO for Titanic, oops I meant to say Hindenburg, crap sorry, that should read Facebook? But let’s be clear, sir. Granting me a forum on which to engage arm’s-length acquaintances and complete strangers does NOT give you or your political affiliates the right to claim my opinions as your own, any more than inviting you into my home gives me the right to slap a politically charged Sauce Boss tattoo on your pasty Ivy League ass.

Sauce Boss tattoo on marble sculpture butt

“I’m Lefty Cheeks, and I approve this message.”

Here’s the thing, my little billionaire buddy. I fear that you, along with the majority of your messaging minion of petulant posters, are too young to remember a day when the air held legitimate potential for ideological subrogation.

Should you have chosen to arbitrarily defile the news feeds and timelines of your users with promotional “Romney and Big Bird 2012” posters, I dare say the globe may have reversed its polarity on the spot and and the earth groaned beneath an irate assemblage of hipster-geek fury.

And therein lies my own disgust. Zucks, baby, the unmitigated gall reflected in such overtly brainwashed actions is rivaled only by the shortsightedness of its arrogance. How easy it is to drug the unsuspecting masses when the narcotic of choice is known to appeal to the majority. And how easily we forget to be enraged at the narcissistic imposition of violently partisan ideology as long as it is a partisan ideology we support.

Of course Mr. Obama has every right to spend his campaign dollar as he reasonably chooses. However, prior generations would never have stood for ANY candidate’s attempt to speak through the mouths of involuntary pawns. By coercing your users into the appearance of endorsing one candidate’s words through the unprecedented removal of their ability to retort, you have shown a frighteningly narrow understanding of the free-flow of information that you claim to hold dear.

Granted, many of those who already drink from the altar of Obama will see no problem whatsoever with such democratic disregard. As long as one agrees with the message, why heed any warnings from the method of its delivery? Similarly, an army of pro-Romney disciples is likely to miss the underlying subversion of your actions in its rush to blind rage.

To be clear, Sauce Boss has no love for either horse in this race to the bottom. And perhaps this is precisely what allows such unfettered disdain. No, Boss stays true to his first love: freedom of unbound expression, independent of the tyrannical shackles of corporate agenda. Allowing users the option for removal would have added strength and purpose to any decision to leave it in place. For the apolitical and undecided among us, it would have shown respect for your user’s individuality.

I believe it was Aristotle who once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I have entertained the thought, sir. You made sure to give me no choice. That said, I have to ask you, Mr. Z, what mark is borne by the man who will impose a thought without any intention of tolerating unacceptance?

Great men lead by example, with the confidence necessary to embrace and learn from dissent. Perhaps this has become an archaic ideal: a relic from a different time. But I hold out hope that our nation will find its way back someday. If only there was some way to bypass the partisan machinery of social media and send a resounding UNLIKE to those who presume to speak for, and indeed through, their citizenry.

people voting behind curtains at polling booths

Hmmmm … if only…

Put a Little Mustard on that Blog!!

Mustard in rameken and spread on white cheddar and wheat cracker on cutting board

Since my earliest cognitive days, I recall being thoroughly taken by that damn Grey Poupon commercial. The rich, creamy texture … the enticing flecks of spicy black heat … the pompous regality of name and label.

Yep, then and there – as a wide-eyed culinary toddler – I simply knew: I REALLY freaking wanted a Rolls Royce and pretentious British accent so damn bad!! It would be mine, I thought to myself…

Rolls Royces passing Grey Poupon

…oh yes, it WOULD be mine.

Life, it appears, can be a cruel, cruel jokester… *shrug*

Two fat rednecks next to car up on blocks

…what ya gonna do…

Still, as we have all learned in the midst of the bleak intellectual apocalypse brought down upon us by the Kardashians and Snookis of the world, with a little self-absorption and an absence of self-awareness, you too can pretend to be valuable and relevant … and I can show you how – right from the comfort of your own home!!

No longer will you hang your head in lowly shame when confronted by that ‘rich-guy-gray’ Rolls, fully stocked with sandwich fixings yet woefully ill-equipped with condiments. Nay, my friends. The next time Thurston Howell reaches his money-counting hand YOUR way in search of blue chip investment advice and flavor-infusing handouts…

Thurston Howell fron Gilligan's Island

Wait … what did I ever do to you?

…you can scoff at the notion of a bourgeois store bought mustard while instructing your driver to hand him this recipe instead.

Benito Mussolini in arrogant pose with nose in the air

Remember, nose up! Proper scoffing requires a very clear nasal passage. This guy “nose” what I’m talkin’ about… HA!!!

Yes, relish this moment, my friends … for it mayo just be your finest.

Sous Chef Cooper laughing maniacally

I see what you did there. HAAAAAAAAAAAA!! God, stop your wicked word sorcery, you’re killing me.”

honey mustard seeds dry mustard powder kosher salt thyme herbs

Honey Herbal Spicy Mustard

1 cup cold filtered water
1/2 cup dry yellow mustard powder
4 Tbsp yellow mustard seed
2 Tbsp brown mustard seeds

3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
0.2 oz (by weight) fresh herbs

1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

In a medium glass bowl, combine the mustard powder, mustard seeds and cold water. You’re going to set this aside and let it soak for a couple hours, stirring it up occasionally. I can’t stress this enough – you want the water cold when you add it. The colder, the better…

Giant iceberg

TOO COLD … don’t be a jackass.

See, here’s the thing: there’s a lot of crazy-ass scientific logic for this but the bottom line is that mustard in its raw form doesn’t have any heat. The heat and pungency come from chemical reactions that take place when the compounds in mustard are exposed to cold. Using hot water will strip away much of this heat – and once it’s gone, much like the whimsy of youth, you ain’t getting it back. On the flip side, if you retain the heat through the process, then you can always reduce it down the road by exposing it to heat at any point. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to cook with this mustard versus adding it after the fact.

Mustard seeds soaking

While the seeds and powder are soaking, place your vinegar and herbs in a small covered pot. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and set it aside to steep. Once it’s cooled a bit, you can run it through a strainer and *BOOM* you’ve just made your own herbal vinegar. You can use any herb mixture you wish and it’s always fun to experiment, but I try to stay away from the more pungent herbs (e.g., the heavy hitters like sage, oregano and basil) because they can really overwhelm everything else. For mine, I chose English thyme (LONDON 2012, baby!!), sweet marjoram, winter savory and a 1″ sprig of rosemary. I might have gone with some tarragon too, if it weren’t such a demanding little diva of an herb and if I weren’t doing this in the dead of summer.

Once your mustard seeds have softened – that is, when you can squish them against the edge of the bowl with some ease – puree the mixture, along with the infused vinegar, in a blender until it reaches your preferred smoothness. It may take a couple minutes and it’s always a good idea to stop a few times and stir it up with a spatula to get all of it down into the blades.

Back into the glass bowl, add in the chopped herb, turmeric, salt and honey. Stir and allow to sit for another couple hours to mellow at room temperature. Check occasionally to gauge the heat and refrigerate once it reaches a level you like. Remember, the flavors will not fully meld for 24 hours or so. At this point, you are just testing for heat before refrigerating – not overall flavor.

It’s not a bad idea to bottle a bit for year-round use since it does make a decent sized batch. If you’d rather keep it simple, it will last months in the fridge, as long as you keep it adequately covered.

Pair a dish of this mustard with a platter of stoned wheat crackers and sharp aged cheddar – and maybe a few apple wedges – and your friends will look up to you with the fanciest of fancy admiration.

mustard in rameken with spreader stoned weat crackers and aged sharp white cheddar cheese on cutting board

Spread on a hot, fresh pretzel and they will spend the rest of their lives chasing your condimentatory (it’s a word now, shut up) prowess … but don’t worry, they will never ketchup.

Sous Chef Cooper laughing maniacally

KETCHUP!! *snort*

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes (Little Orbs of Summer, Creepily Kept Suspended in a Jar. YUM!!)

Admit it … you’ve missed me. C’mon, GROUP HUG.

sliced cherry tomatoes

For those falling victim to the widespread rumors that I had been killed in a bar fight, called back to my home planet or kidnapped and sold off for scrap metal, I cast shame upon thee. I’ve never met a bar fight I couldn’t handle, I’ve held DUAL planetary citizenship for years now, and my platinum visage is fully insured.

No, the truth is I have been an inexcusably lazy bastard – listening intently for the siren song of inspiration, yet hearing only the tepid footsteps of pedestrian mediocrity. A shell of my formerly glorious self, swapping muscle for blubbery reserves and reapportioning hair from where it should be to where nobody wants it…

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito from Twins movie

Oh wait, no, that was some other guy who I’m not. I’ve been busy as hell!! Between my efforts to breed a superior alpaca and the nurturing of my rooftop jiujitsu superhero hobby…

NYC Rooftops from above

Leaving NYC has really done wonders for my vertigo.

…I have also thrown myself into a couple new writing ventures which I might share with you someday, once I verify the complete lack of suckage contamination…

CDC hazmat suits and lab

…no suck so far … but we are seeing symptoms consistent with dangerous levels of awesome.

Alas, this is no excuse for being so remiss in recent weeks. Even through times of trial and burdensome stress, a man’s gotta eat – most women do too, I hear. And then the children … oh god, the children!!

That said, and by way of humble apology, I shall start you off with a suitably extravagant, and entirely timely, little snacker that smacks of gentle, warmth-kissed summer breezes and vibrant, garden-grown flavors. It’s a sexy little garnish that screams “high class,” yet does so in a suitably classy way. Just be sure to plan ahead. Don’t wait until you’re already hungry, though … because it takes about 4 weeks to prepare to perfection. Sorry, probably should have tossed this one your way about 3 1/2 weeks ago, huh? I suck as a friend. But they’re still pretty darn good right out of the gate. Come on, give ’em a try now AND bottle up a couple jars for the short, cold, bleak, suicidally dank days of winter (WHAT? I’m a writer now … I’m SUPPOSED TO be a buzzkill)…

And on THAT high note:

Pickled cherry tomatoes in jars

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp cane sugar
Approximately 36 oz (by weight) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 sprig fresh dill per jar, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic per jar, halved or quartered
2 whole black peppercorns per jar
1 thin onion slice or three small slices of shallot
2 fresh Tabasco chiles per jar (dry red pepper flakes will do, to taste)

Honestly, this is something of a quick throw-together, so there is very little finesse involved. The vast majority of time goes into the prep and the canning, although you can just as easily prepare and refrigerate in an unprocessed jar for up to two weeks. That said, summer ain’t gonna last forever and I don’t want you to come crying to me in February when you can’t get your fix of garden fresh goodness. I am enabling you right now – if you don’t heed my warning, I will shed no pity on your wintertime shakes and cold sweats. Tough love, mes amis!!

I have found that 36 oz of small cherry or grape tomatoes will just about perfectly fill three 8 oz canning jars, once juice is added. The ones in the included photos are fresh off the vines of an underproductive-albeit-tasty home garden. Store bought works fine, obviously, but we all know they can’t compare to tomatoes sun-ripened in the back yard. Either way, halve the tomatoes and stuff right into your sterilized jars. There are 500 ways to sterilize a jar for canning, and everyone has their favorite method, so I will leave that part to you.

Cherry tomato halves in jars

Don’t go crazy on stuffing them in but give the jars a little tap and shake to settle the tomatoes. You can bring them right up to slightly below the neck of the jar.

Combine the vinegar, water, salt and cane sugar into a medium sized pot and bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat and set aside.

With beautiful and elegant simplicity, chop your dill…

Sprig of fresh dill on cutting board

Smell the elegant simplicity?

finely chopped fresh dill

Ok, how about now?

…and toss it into your jars, along with peppercorns, garlic and onion or shallot. I find it helps to remove a bit of tomato and slip these ingredients deeper into the jar, then replace what you removed … especially if you’re going for a quicker processing for more immediate consumption.

shallots and herbs added to tomatoes in jar

Line up your tomato-packed jars and ladle in enough of your vinegar-water solution to reach to right around 1/2″ beneath the mouth of the jar. Seal and process for 15 minutes in a covered boiling water bath. Store in a cool, dark place and write me this winter to tell me how freaking awesome life is everytime you toss a few over a salad or garnish your martini.

tomatoes and tabasco chiles pickled in jar

NOTE: Sauce Boss does not endorse pickling your own insides with excessive consumption of pickled-tomato-garnished martinis … but I do applaud your commitment to the craft.

Coming soon … SOMETHING ELSE!!

Doing Time, “Con”-Style : Kids Need To Read – Giving Children’s Books to Libraries in Need

Ladies, gentlemen, non-humanoid life forms … Today, I would like to announce the birth of a galactically exciting event. Today, I share my first-ever GUEST BLOG – and I could not be happier to be doing so for an organization that embraces and advocates a cause that is truly dear to my heart.

Every time I get accused of pretentious snobbery for audaciously using big words, I die a little inside because – at least in my naïvely ideal world – we should all be free and, more importantly, sufficiently equipped to flex such verbal muscle without fear of rebuke.

However, with American literacy skills in all age groups dropping to levels whereby the educated become the castigated and the bookworms & creative scribes are seldom praised as visionaries yet frequently reviled as pompous, the time has truly come for the double-hinged door of education to swing back in full-blown revolution. And it is people like my friends at Kids Need to Read who are leading that charge by going straight to the source and providing disadvantaged children, oftentimes those children left behind scholastically, with an encouraging second chance to equip themselves with the tools necessary for a successful future of which they are in absolute control.

With that said, I was moved enough to board a plane to visit them all in person. I went … I saw … I bought the t-shirt (no, literally … It’s got a little alien surrounded by books and says “Take Me to Your Reader” on it and it’s a total chick magnet. I think they’ve got more on eBay). I enjoyed my time so much, in fact, that I was thrilled when asked to write my first guest blog. Hopefully, you’ll be nearly as thrilled to read it. And, while you’re over there, check out their amazing site (SPOILER ALERT: I wrote a little of it. Can ya tell which page? HUH?).

And if you leave a small donation while you’re visiting, you shall earn my undying respect and affection – which will be worth something someday, I can almost assure you.

Enjoy heartily, my friends, mi amigos and mes amis:

Doing Time, “Con”-Style : Kids Need To Read – Giving Children’s Books to Libraries in Need.

Terminal Boredom

So here I sit, quietly tethered to a rare power socket, in a bustling-yet-lonely corridor; flanked by jet-setters and eagle-eyed vultures with nothing but outlet lust in their black hearts…

Bored quite literally to tears, and in the grips of the layover to end all layovers in an airport more than 1000 miles out of my way, I have tasked myself with a soul-saving challenge. Today, my friends, I am breaking new ground with my first-ever all-around airport review. Yes, you heard that correctly…right now, at this VERY moment, history is being made – and YOU can tell your grandkids you were right here with me!!

To set the ambience, I find myself in Salt Lake City. If you really want to know why, you’re going to have to ask my new lifelong enemy, Delta Airlines.

They love to fly, and it shows…mostly in the evil cackles and dastardly hand-wringing

I just wanted to get to Phoenix for Comicon but Delta INSISTED on bringing me here. So, darnit, I’m going to make the most of it!! And with that, dawn illuminates a bitchin’ new era…

Salt Lake City International Airport

As I tend to do every time I step off an airplane in a new place, my first order of business was to ensure that I was still, in fact, in the United States:

Salt Lake City Utah International Airport

whew… ok, what’s next

Entertainment:

Salt Lake City boasts a wealth of entertainment options for the traveler on the go. Foremost among them are the mountains. If you, like myself, are an avid outdoorsman and cannot imagine a better way to kill a few hours than a rigorous mountain climb, well…

SLC Airport mountains
…I’m sorry, but you’re pretty much out of luck because they’re, like, REALLY far away. Something about landing airplanes and jagged, rocky geological features… I know there was a reason for putting us so far away but I sort of zoned out. Apologies. But they’re awesome for looking at… I’ve been doing it for two and a half hours now!!

But don’t go thinking the fun stops at the bottom of the hillside. Goodness, no. In fact, Salt Lake City (can I call you “SLC”? I feel we have grown to know each other so well since my arrival, and typing out Salt Lake City is just a really annoying bitch) has pioneered amazing innovations in the field of fine art “speed-viewing”.

SLC Airport Utah Salt Lake City

No longer do you have to linger painfully at a mediocre work of art for fear of appearing artistically disinclined. Step on the moving walkway and the SLC airport will do the moving for you. Talk about a time-saver!! And, since the pieces they have chosen to adorn the walls largely suck, you will not feel the slightest twinge of guilt as you fly by the visual life-work of some obscure nobody. They really think of everything out here in SLC.

Fashion:

SLC airport UTAH hoodie sweatshirt

While it may not be New York City or Milan, if you really relate (I mean, REALLY relate) to “UTAH” and love that timeless neon hoodie look, you really cannot do better. And, in case subtlety is truly not your thing, take note of the glistening chrome coffee mugs. I hear those are flying off the shelves – but could not confirm this while visiting.

Cuisine:

People ask me all the time, “Boss, where should I eat if I find myself trapped in a concrete valley, surrounded on all sided by impassable mountain peaks, with about four hours to kill?” My answer is now swift and decisive: DO NOT eat at SLC International Airport.

SLC airport Utah Cat Cora market food

After briefly pondering Utah’s version of Greek food and a few Mexican options, I settled on a little gem of a place, nestled away in the deepest corner of Terminal B. I believe it was called “Wendy’s”… After perusing the lackluster menu, I ambled to the register and threw down my money for a spicy chicken sandwich. Call it a gut feeling but I don’t think Utah is particularly versed in “spicy”…

While the allegedly super fancy natural-cut fries were uninspiring, to say the least, I found a jewel in the rough in a wonderfully pseudo-dairy dessert called a “Frosty” (yes, I’m being a smartass…I’m tired of being in this damn airport already!!). After discussing the Frosty sizing options with the whip-smart cashier, I settled on a medium. Turning her back for a moment, she promptly returned to the counter with a clear large cup, proudly half-filled. I am not entirely sure what look I gave her but it couldn’t have been good because she promptly informed me that they were out of medium cups so she MacGyvered me a medium.

I vaguely recall laughing and telling her to go ahead and just fill it and make it a large. She blinked twice and reached under the counter to retrieve a half-melted, but completely filled medium Frosty (I am NOT making this up. I would not do that to you). As my patience was about to board my flight without me, I took my melted concoction and made way back for the gate.

My final review? I’m ready for Phoenix and all the tequila and Princess-Leia-bikini-dressed women that it has to throw at me. Bring on Comicon and I’ll see SLC again…in my nightmares, if not sooner…

Finding Comfort in Sin: Shiitake, Shallot and Sage Macaroni & Cheese with Smoked Gouda

Shiitake, caramelized shallots and sage in smoked gouda cheese sauce with a panko topping

For those of you who follow my Twitter feed, you already know that I inexplicably managed to tear my back up while writing some preliminary notes for my pending novel…the term “pending” being used very loosely… And I wasn’t even writing the GOOD part. With a tentative release date sometime in the early-to-mid(-to-late) 21st century, you just can’t buy that kind of obscure publicity.

And for those of you who do not yet follow me on Twitter, how dare you?? May the shame and public humiliation prompted by my current indignation haunt you through all your remaining days – or at least until you repent and come tweet me a little love. Your choice, as always.

In addition to the incomprehensibly blinding and hysterically unprovoked back pain, I have also spent the past few days reconciling the fact that, after a full week, my “FOCKITALL” movement has yet to effect global social reform. So, yeah… Needless to say, I’m pretty bummed. Who knew that universal paradigm shifts  and global harmonization of all mankind took so damn much work…

However, you and I have been through much together – your insight is unparalleled and I know that you know, straight down to the darkest recesses of your foodie-fueled soul, that my crusade against willfully stupid things that piss me off shall continue, unabated… The only real question born of this crushing temporary agony of spirit and deltoid is, “what the heck am I going to cook when I once again conquer gravity and can craft some serious comfort food from a fully upright position?”

If you are an American, know an American, used to date an American or have ever read a book about an American, you probably know that this is more of a rhetorical question than an actual soul-searching inquiry. Comfort Food = Mac & Cheese.

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Proposition “FOCKITALL” For Social Change (also, Black and White Cookies!!)

New York black and white cookie recipe Manhattan New York City deli

I hail from an age when good triumphed over evil, the concept of “being famous for being famous” would make people sad, and the only polarizing battle between “black” and “white” was waged on an ancient battleground of cookie-liciousness (what, me idealize?).

Far be it from me to allow a bit of harmless introspection to escape my grasp without prompting a verbose pontification of greater implications… As I worked through another day of weaving culinary magic, I began to ponder this apparent devolution of society during my brief lifetime…and came to one conclusion: good and evil may be artificial constructs that can only exist within a vacuum devoid of any degree of context and Paris Hilton will never, ever go away…BUT this black vs white thing is utterly asinine and we ALL need to get the hell over it, like, NOW.

Yes, I get profound when I cook… What, you don’t?

Never one to back down from the opportunity to charge myself with single-handedly spearheading a nationwide campaign for social change, I hereby formally propose a national movement of getting over our intolerant selves and bringing our neolithic asses into the 21st century, once and for all. And we shall do so, my friends, by calling to order the first-ever “Forget Our Counterproductive, Kafkaesque, Intolerant, Tedious Asshattery and Let Live” Day…

Yes, together we can all share in the blame for the past, we can all forgive the person to our left in the present, and we can ALL take that first step toward a better future by standing proud, raising our arms into the winds of change, and emphatically declaring “FOCKITALL” to anybody and everybody who crosses our day. (Warning: you may get punched…a lot. Remember, some people fear change.)

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I’m a Blogger, Dammit – Now, Who the Hell Am I?

Legend has it that Hemingway would do much of his writing while standing up (that’s Ernest, by the way, not Mariel…what she does standing up is none of my concern). Interestingly, I have discovered that I tend to to do the same, albeit often unconsciously. What’s more, nothing puts an old-school kibosh on a freestyle random thought process faster than sitting my taut, muscular backside down in a comfy chair for a spell of focused writing. If true art is born not of misery, at least I can see how it is nurtured along by discomfort.

And so it was this morning as I lost myself in a brief catatonic stasis (yes, another one… no, I do not need to “see someone” about it), standing mid-kitchen, somewhere between an unprepared bowl of oatmeal and the siren song of the coffee pot. I was conscious of my surroundings, yes. I had surveilled the countertop to ensure the ritualistic elements of my morning breakfast routine were at the ready. And yet, I was not “whole.” Oddly, and without warning, my thoughts had retreated inward, yet I recall passively watching my subconscious frolic somewhere out in the middle distance.

Yes, I am pretty sure I was giving myself the thousand-yard-stare. And, as my gaze unlocked with…myself…it’s complicated…after what felt an uneasy eternity, a tiny ember of truth expanded forth with the blinding MichioKakuan force of an over-eager singularity, bursting at its adolescent seams with testosterone and galactic energy…

Morgan Freeman against a backdrop of the universe

An epiphanic event so epic, it was totally narrated by this guy…for free.

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